AccessCNY Celebrates Direct Service Professionals Appreciation Week
All this week, AccessCNY has been honoring staff who directly serve program participants as part of Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week. These stories have been shared to highlight the exceptional work of AccessCNY staff, and what they mean to the people they serve. You can find these stories below, and follow us on Facebook for more!
According to Araba Black, to be a Direct Service Professional, you have to be able to laugh at yourself when things don’t go exactly to plan. “I had two participants in wheelchairs, and two who were walking, and we trudged through the pumpkin patch, and nobody fell. Except me. They laughed so hard. It was hysterical. When I got up my whole side was covered in mud. But I wouldn’t go home; we had to finish getting our pumpkins, and then get the pumpkins carved back at the house!” These residents had never been to a pumpkin patch before, and Araba was determined to help them experience it, muddy or not.
Araba has worked for AccessCNY for 10 years. She currently works as an Assistant Manager at the David Clark Learning Center, which provides individualized services and support to people with acquired brain injuries (ABI) and their families.
“When I worked with a lady who was nonverbal, it was tough for her voice to be heard,” Araba said, explaining that people didn’t always understand what she wanted. “I wanted to help her to go to places she loved before her accident. We would drive by this Inn, and although she was unable to eat, she loved the smell of the fish. She would turn her head when we were driving past, she could smell the fish. She would look at me, and I asked her ‘Do you want to go in there?’ and she gave me a nod of the head. So we muscled into this completely inaccessible restaurant, and I got her into this little spot, and it made her so happy.” To Araba, it is all about putting a smile on someone else’s face, and doing everything she can to empower others to do what they want to do.
Thank you Araba, for all you do.
Ethel works each day to help people find and retain their jobs, whatever their needs may be – and she loves every minute of it. “The best thing I see is how good individuals feel when they can actually trust someone. . . but they do all the hard work, I just give them the tools.”
Ethel Giacobbi has been an employment consultant at AccessCNY for 8 years, and in that time she has learned a lot from the experience of others. “Most of us, we can go home when we have a bad day, and we have someone to talk to . . . for many of the people I serve, I am that person,” she said. “People in this job have opened my eyes to how lucky I am.”
When talking about one particular program participant that touched her heart, Ethel explained that, “each week he comes and tells me how he has been helped.” She said that he overcame a language barrier, immigration and lack of transportation to get a job at a local grocer. “It’s hard to put into words how far he has come.”
Thank you Ethel, for all you do.
Emmanuel says that the biggest lesson he has learned from his work is, “. . . to be humble. Some of the people we help, they went to college. They are not so different from me, and yet here they are in this situation. There is not much difference between them and me.”
Helen describes her favorite part of her job by saying, “When I come in, the residents all want to talk about the good things that have happened to them. We laugh and we talk.” She describes the biggest lesson she has taken from her work as, “I learned to be a better listener,” she said. Helen explained that she had trouble with one resident who would become very upset when things didn’t go her way. In response, Helen began to take her aside and listen to her one on one. “Now, she is calmer. She even volunteered to help us keep up with the housework!”
Asked about an experience that truly touched him, Emmanuel described a woman he used to work with. “She had been wanting to get out and travel. But she had problems with daily living skills. I related to her very well, and we built up trust that I would be able to support her. She went to D.C. with a few other participants and me. I could see the smile on her face! We spent two or three nights there, and each day I woke up before everyone to go and make sure that she was ok.”
Emmanuel and Helen Nyema have worked for AccessCNY for a combined 19 years. Both of them are dedicated to providing excellent care to people of all abilities. Helen works as an assistant manager at one of AccessCNY’s DD/ABI Residential programs and Emmanuel works as a part of the Community Support Services team, which works to help people with mental health conditions get out into the community.
Thank you Emmanuel and Helen, for all you do.
What’s your favorite part of this job?
“Hanging out with the folks. Joking around with the folks,” Richard said, expressing his love for spending time with the people he serves at the AccessCNY Residence where he works. He has been a DSP (Direct Support Professional) at AccessCNY for over ten years.
“Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be ready to roll with the punches, and keep an open mind about what might happen. “Every time we go to the grocery store I say to one of the residents ‘try this instead of this, this instead of that.’ There’s one guy I’m always trying to get to choose ground turkey instead of ground beef. And he doesn’t want to. He did let me cook an omelet for him yesterday with broccoli in it. And I think he liked it. So one day, maybe I can convince him to do turkey instead of ground beef!”
Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference… a smile, an encouraging word… and even the occasional bunny ears.
Thank you Richard, for all you do.